Sunday, August 3, 2014

Active Days in Gander, NL

We had a full day on Saturday, starting with Russ & Jane Darrow sharing lunch with us at Denny’s favorite McDonald’s, followed by the 17th Annual Fun Fly hosted by The Screaming Eagles R/C Flying Club. These radio-controlled aircraft are anything but toys, and the people who fly them are anything but amateurs.


It takes a lot of patience and skill to build the planes and helicopters, to say nothing of the extreme talents required to fly them.


It takes almost as much skill to photograph them, so I only got a few good shots of the planes in the air.



And I couldn’t get any good shots of the one helicopter that was flown by Colin Bell, a national R/C helicopter flying champion. This picture is at the end of the show he put on, which received a hearty round of applause from the spectators.


Our friend Russ was lucky enough to have his name drawn to fly one of the planes, with a trainer giving instruction and assistance.


He did a pretty good job!




Later, we got together to cook burgers and brats outside.


Denny brought his Ugly Stick to demonstrate it to Jane and Russ.


Then Russ tried his hand at it.


Don worked his magic on the burgers and brats.


And we compared notes on maps and travel books to make recommendations to each other. Finally, we had to bid Jane & Russ “see ya down the road” as they are scheduled to take the ferry off “The Rock” of Newfoundland on Wed and have lots kilometers to travel by then.

Our final event of the day (are we tired yet?) was Newfoundland’s Biggest Kitchen Party at the Gander Community Centre. The first group was unknown to us, Freshly Squeezed. It was hard to get a good picture because of the size of the place, the lights, etc.


The crowd was pretty thin for the first group. A few couples got out on the dance floor, including our own famous dancing couple Denny & Susie.


The headliner group was The Navigators, the same group we saw perform in Twillingate. Now that we were familiar with their music, it was really nice to see them perform again.

Arthur O’Brien is the lead singer and plays the fiddle most of the time, although he also plays guitar.


At least two unusual instruments are played by Fred Jorgensen: the tin whistle and the bodhran (an Irish drum).


The five-musician group is quite talented and popular in Newfoundland. You may enjoy listening to some of their music available online.



More about the music of Newfoundland and Labrador can be found at this link in Wikipedia.

More dancing as well as a bigger crowd grew as the evening went on. It was fun to watch some of the better dancers during the fast-paced, energetic Celtic music.


You may recognize some other familiar faces and forms on the dance floor as well.



The only downside was that we “old folks” aren’t used to staying out as late as this party, which began at 9:00 pm, with the Navigators starting about 10:40. We made it until shortly after midnight and left before the next group started. Denny & Susie stayed for part of their show, but we all missed the final group. There were plenty of younger folks to continue the party without us, though!

One of the great things about this experience was meeting some local Newfoundlanders who, like many others we’ve met, were so friendly and interesting to talk with. This couple even invited us to visit them in St. John’s and offered to give us a tour of the city! We hope to take them up on the offer when we get there.

After such a late night last night, today we just had one big activity: the 2014 Demolition Derby. I wasn’t keen on attending and thought I might want to come home early, so we took 2 cars. The guys took a detour to the airport to see some Russian planes while Susie and I took chairs and staked out a place to watch the races. We got there early enough to get prime seating at the derby pit.


By the time Denny and Don arrived and the first heat started, the place was packed.


Ten cars were introduced individually in the Compact Category and took their places, then the drivers and safety officers had a brief meeting and prayer.


The object was for each driver to try to demolish other cars, obviously. They started by backing into each other.


It was dusty and loud, but the wind was blowing the dust away from us, so I stayed to see what happened. As cars became disabled with flat tires, crushed bodies and broken axles, their drivers tried in vain to get them moving again, and finally the last car still moving was declared the winner.


Then it was time to remove the wrecks and clean up the pit. Waiting for the race to start, then waiting for the cleanup each were longer than the race itself. Gee, I’m having a lot of fun! But I decided to sit through one more heat with the full size cars.

They lined up in much the same manner, with 13 competitors.


This time, they not only damaged bodies, bumpers and axles; they started to pile up on each other.


With a driver still in the green car when the white one backed up on top of him, we were worried a tragedy was taking place in front of our eyes. The red flags came out immediately and the ambulance was ready to move into service. But it wasn’t long before both drivers gave a thumbs-up signal and crawled out of their cars.



The white car even managed to get free of the pileup, thanks to the help of the only woman driver (in the black/purple car closest to us) who nudged it enough to dislodge it from the green car. The white car then continued in the race.


The final winner was a car that hadn’t attracted much attention, just managed to stay out of the way and ended up with the least damage.


I was happy that Don was ready to go home; if he wasn’t I was prepared to exercise my option to leave early. Susie & Denny also decided not to wait for cleanup and regrouping for the next heat, the survivors’ round. (There were survivors?) So we went home for a brief rest then went out for pizza.

What a nice time we’ve had in Gander! It has been wonderful meeting so many truly friendly people, participating in parts of their annual Festival of Flight, and learning about the important role the town played in aviation history for both the U.S. and Canada.


  1. Sounds like so much fun. I think one of the rules in the derby is you get disqualified if you don't run into other ones. It's so nice to see different things.

  2. Fun times in Gander. I hope you come back with lots of "Newfie" jokes.

  3. Did you get to see the group called Anchor's Aweigh? Great group.


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